I laugh in the face of continuity

I feel Jaleigh’s pain. I have written a time-travel story–A Portrait of Time in the Timeshares anthology–and while I found it fun, it was a short story. Doing a whole novel based around time travel, I suspect, would make me more grumpy than I normally am when I’m writing a first draft. (And I’m pretty grumpy when I’m first-drafting. Just ask the other members of this writing group. Or my husband. On second thought, don’t. I want to maintain my cool mystique.)

For me time-travel stories are mostly wish-fulfillment. Who doesn’t want to go back and change a decision, see a deceased loved one one last time, or say an apology? Everyone has regrets, and time travel is one way for fiction to fix them. And while we don’t like to think about it, we all have a finite life span. Wouldn’t it be great to see what life is like long after we’ve died? What will the world be like one hundred years from now? Time-travel stories let us explore that. So, yes, they can be a bear to write, especially in the long form. You’ve decisions to make in terms of which theory of time you’re going to use in your book–multiple universes? One timeline? etc.–and then plotting issues that revolve around that decision. You have to think about how your characters impact not only their current timeline but others. And, oh yeah, you have potential paradoxes to think about. It’d be helpful to have a Physics consultant on hand *cough* Elizabeth *cough*.

At the core, though, time travel stories are like any other story. They’re about a person who wants something and you’re not going to let them have it right away. Time travel is just another tool in your character’s arsenal. And when you think about it like that, it’s not so daunting. Right? Right!?



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